My student came over for another lesson last night. After the careful and focused work on the little girl wedding dress, she was eager to begin work on a dress like this one

With a jersey knit tank top, a wide exposed elastic waist and a slightly gathered skirt, like this one from

Often we will draft a bodice for my student by starting out with an existing top that fits her. Other times I will chalk out a draft directly onto fabric based on my student's measurements or I will draft by eye.

I wanted to see how much my student had actually absorbed from working with me. so I asked her to do the draft on her own. Her first attempt was far too small with an armscye the size of a tennis ball and no neck.

I asked my student to look at her first attempt and see if she thought it might fit. I also took a length of elastic and used it to measure from the top of her shoulder, essentially tracing out the length of the armscye. seeing that length of elastic gave her a better sense of how big that curve needs to be. She then used that same elastic to measure the width of half her torso. The light bulb went off in her head and she quickly drafted bodice # 2. She still hadn't made room for a neck, but added a curve for her neck after I pointed out the lack.

To my eye, her draft looked a bit too small but it seemed like a terrific teaching moment. So she cut it out, sewed up the seams and tried it on and then looked in the mirror. My student decided that the bodice was too short and too tight. She wanted the neckline to be lower. She also made the armscye to high. ( I do this all the time, and pointed that exact flaw out on the dress that I was wearing. I too am perfecting my skills.)

My student then took off bodice #2 and used it as a guide to cut bodice #3, which fit exactly the way she wanted it to. She sewed it to the heavy elastic.

Many of these dresses with the exposed elastic waists are being shown with exposed 6 inch zippers at the bodice back. I had exactly the zipper my student had wanted in my stash, a brass zipper with black tape and a cute tab. Installing the zipper was fraught with errors. I finally noticed that my student had sewn the bodice front to the back, and sent her home. She was fried. We all reach the point of tired when all we can do is make mistakes. I have learned through bitter experience that that means that it is time to quit.

Next Sunday we will attach the skirt. I may un-sew the zipper to spare my student that frustration.


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